Roberto Alomar was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. He was the first player to enter the Hall of Fame wearing a Blue Jays cap. In hockey, a player isn’t identified as a member of a particular team when entering the Hockey Hall of Fame.
But what if they were?
For some players, the choice would be obvious. Mario Lemieux is a Pittsburgh Penguin. Steve Yzerman is a Detroit Red Wing. Gordie Howe would be a Red Wing as well, despite playing professionally for other teams. The same goes for Darryl Sittler and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
But for some players, the team selection would be more difficult. Patrick Roy rose to fame and had some of his best years in Montreal. He won two Stanley Cups with the Canadiens. However, he also won two Cups in Colorado. Montreal seems to be a more obvious choice, but there could be some grounds for debate there.
Wayne Gretzky would be an Edmonton Oiler, right? His time in Los Angeles wasn’t as decorated as his time in Edmonton. But what about Mark Messier? Is he an Oiler? Or a Ranger?
With the most recent Hall of Fame inductees there would be even more questions.
For example, would you consider Joe Nieuwendyk a member of the Calgary Flames or the Dallas Stars? He spent nine seasons with the Flames and won the Stanley Cup in Calgary in 1989. His most productive years in terms of point totals came with the Flames and he was also the team captain. However, he was traded to Dallas in 1995 and he went on to win the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe trophy with the Stars. He played seven seasons in Dallas. He’s also currently the general manager in Dallas, though that shouldn’t come into play in this discussion.
Another 2011 HHOF Inductee who won the Stanley Cup in Dallas is Ed Belfour. However, would he be identified as a member of the Stars in the Hall if that decision needed to be made? He spent more years as a goaltender in Chicago than with any other team and when we think about him, we picture him as a Blackhawk first. His stats in Chicago were similar to his stats in Dallas and he made the Stanley Cup Final with Chicago in 1992. But does winning the Cup in Dallas trump that? Should Toronto be given any consideration here?
Speaking of Toronto, is there any way that Doug Gilmour would enter the Hall of Fame representing any team other than the Maple Leafs? He certainly had his most productive seasons in Toronto and he spent more years with the Leafs than with any other team. He was also the captain of the Maple Leafs. However, he won the Stanley Cup with a different team (the Flames in 1989.) Does that change anything?
The Hockey Hall of Fame doesn’t identify players with specific teams when they are inducted and, in many ways, that makes sense. A great player can be great with a number of different franchises. However, if the Hall decided to make that move, there would be some tough choices to make.